Tips for starting up when you're a student

More and more people are now starting to think about starting their own businesses from an early age, realising that traditional career paths aren't the only option for their future. And for many university can be the place where you start to take steps towards your own entrepreneurial goal, as well as achieving qualifications and brushing up on helpful skills.

One such entrepreneurially-minded student is Tom Field, a business administration student at the University of Bath. Here are his tips for students that want to start their own business.

Tom headshot

“From a young age I’ve been coming up with loads of wacky ideas in an effort to start my own business - none of which have been that successful, but having a go is half the battle. I've sold logs from the edge of my drive, had my own stall where I sold Christmas decorations and candles at a local fayre, and even tried to start my own business called “Rate my Crab” - the only place where users could share and upload pictures of the crabs they had caught. Having that entrepreneurial spirit is a special characteristic and one you should definitely look to exercise.

With that in mind, here are my top tips for a student with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Join societies and competitions

As a university student you should be able to join an entrepreneurial society, as most universities have them. If not, then there’s an opportunity to get a few of you together and start one up! There are also loads of different young entrepreneurial competitions that go on throughout the year up and down the country. Have a look online or speak to your business lecturers to see if any opportunities are coming up soon.

Talk to like-minded people

Talking to like-minded people is a great way to share your ideas, tips and experiences and can really help hone your entrepreneurial skills. There’s nothing better than sharing your excitement with somebody else! Finding like-minded people can feel daunting, but the internet is a good place to start. Following influencers and other entrepreneurs on Twitter is a great chance to get advice and converse with peers, and Facebook groups such as London StartUps are a chance for fledgling entrepreneurs to make connections.

Another great option is to attend Meetups with an entrepreneurial focus. We run our own monthly meetups in London where you can meet new people, network, and listen to some inspirational stories from a range of entrepreneurs. Even if you can’t make the event we record the session and post it on our YouTube channel, so you can always catch it there.

Write things down

As a budding entrepreneur, lots of ideas will be buzzing around your head. Some will be good, and some not so good, but it’s important to jot all your ideas down as it will only improve your idea generation and execution. I carry a small notebook around with me in my coat pocket to ensure I never lose an idea. All great ideas have to start somewhere, and if you can actually record and remember them the more likely they are to turn into reality.

Test a few ideas out

Sometimes testing out an idea is the only way to figure out whether it’s a good one or not. Making a prototype or building a landing page instead of a website not only identifies whether there’s a demand for the business, but gives you an idea of where to improve and is also very cost-effective. You don’t have to wait to carry out market research and establish demand – get going now!

Do good with your startup

Getting involved with social enterprises is a great way to be entrepreneurial and help benefit society at the same time. There are loads of different projects you can be part of up and down the country, so it’s worth checking out what’s going on in your area. There is lots of information online about social enterprise, but you could also speak to your local council to get some additional info on what kind of things are happening near you. When I was at college we organised a tea-dance for the elderly people within the community. Local businesses donated loads of gifts in return for advertising, a range of choirs and singers performed and in the end we raised over £600 for a local charity. There are opportunities everywhere for you to get stuck in!

As a wise man once said “Chance favours the prepared mind. The more you practise the luckier you become”. There is no harm in getting out there and testing the water, take these tips on board, and who knows - 2016 could be the year you start your journey to becoming the next Richard Branson.

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